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June 20 – July 10, 2019

The purpose of this bulletin is to compile a handful of articles relating to health care coverage in the United States that are most pertinent to LIUNA and its health and welfare funds. We hope you find this biweekly bulletin helpful and informative.

NPR: Regulators Resist Call For Action In Response To Black Lung Epidemic

The nation's top coal mine safety regulator told members of Congress on Thursday that existing safety regulations are sufficient to protect miners from toxic dust, despite calls for change amid an epidemic of advanced black lung disease among coal miners in Appalachia.


The New York Times: Veterans Agency To Offer New Depression Drug, Despite Cost And Safety Concerns

Confronted by a rising rate of suicides in some groups of veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday decided to approve the use of a new and costly depression drug, despite concerns among doctors and other experts about the drug’s effectiveness.


Politico: Trump Aims At Health Cost Transparency With Executive Order

President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order aimed at helping patients understand their medical costs up front that could force providers and insurers to open their books on secretive price negotiations.


CNBC: FDA Issues Warnings To Companies That Claim An Herbal Drug Can Cure Opioid Addiction

The Food and Drug Administration recently issued warnings to two businesses that are illegally marketing and making “unproven” claims that their products, which contain a drug called kratom, can treat or cure opioid addiction and withdrawal.


The Washington Post: Inspector General Wants To Know If USDA Concealed Worker Safety Data

The Office of Inspector General is evaluating whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture concealed information and used flawed data to develop and promote a new hog inspection system that would shift many food-safety tasks from federal inspectors to pork industry employees. 


Kaiser Health News: Five Things We Found In The FDA’s Hidden Device Database

After two decades of keeping the public in the dark about millions of medical device malfunctions and injuries, the Food and Drug Administration has published the once hidden database online, revealing 5.7 million incidents publicly for the first time.


The Hill: Trump Administration Delays Implementation Of 'Conscience Protection' Rule

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is delaying the implementation of its “conscience protection” rule until November to give the administration more time to deal with a lawsuit over the policy.


CBS News: Drug Prices 2019: Manufacturers Hiked Prices On 3,400 Drugs At An Average Increase Of 5 Times Inflation

The price increases come at a time when lawmakers and consumers are increasingly concerned about the escalating cost of medications, which are far outpacing wage growth and the cost of living.


CNN: Judge Nixes Trump Effort To Require Drug Prices In TV Ads

A federal judge has nixed a regulation that was a centerpiece of President Donald Trump's efforts to bring down drug prices, a key priority heading into the 2020 campaign.




Boston Globe: Losing Money And Struggling To Find Workers, A Nursing Home Operator Feels The Squeeze

Thirty nursing homes have shuttered in the past 18 months — and 214 since 2000 — a little noticed 35 percent shrinkage that has uprooted many of the state’s most vulnerable residents.


Nashville Tennessean: Medical Monopoly: An Unusual Hospital Merger In Rural Appalachia Leaves Residents With Few Options

Molly Worley is an angry grandma. For weeks she has stubbornly occupied a folding lawn chair on a grassy median outside Holston Valley Medical Center, sheltered from sweltering Appalachian summer sun by a thin tarp and flanked by a rotating crew staging a round-the-clock protest since May 1.


WBUR: This Mass. Woman Has 2 Insurance Plans. She's Still Struggling To Pay For Prescriptions

A new WBUR poll finds that although the vast majority of Massachusetts residents have health insurance, nearly one in three who’s filled a prescription in the last year has struggled to afford it.


The Sacramento Bee: Bourdain-Inspired Mental Health Effort In Sacramento Expands

As fans around the world Tuesday mark what would have been the 63rd birthday of celebrity chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain, organizers of a grassroots movement in Sacramento restaurants are expanding their efforts to foster a kitchen culture that supports the mental health of its workers.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Ga. Cigna Patients Could Face Surprise Medical Bills

A contract rift between a major health insurance company and independent doctors has put thousands of Georgia patients in danger of big surprise bills from hospital visits, starting Sept. 1.


The Texas Tribune: Texas Is Going To Court To End Obamacare. It Hasn't Produced A Plan To Replace It

Attorneys for the state of Texas argue the health law cannot stand since the Republican-led Congress in 2017 zeroed out Obamacare’s individual mandate — a penalty imposed on people who chose to remain uninsured.